By now, you have undoubtedly heard of the ignition switch problems plaguing General Motors – which have lead to hundreds of injury and property damage claims across the United States. As a refresher, millions of General Motors models were implanted with a defective ignition switch which could actually cause the vehicles to turn off while in motion. Of course, the sudden loss of power can cause serious accidents, particularly for vehicles traveling at high rates of speed on highways and interstates. So far, the defect is implicated in 124 deaths and 275 injuries.
As a result of the widespread harm, victims of the defective switches filed lawsuits against the company for damages. As is common in complex product liability lawsuits, General Motors hand-picked three cases – seemingly representative of the types of claims overall – to engage in what is known as a Bellwether trial. A Bellwether trial is somewhat of a “preview” trial to gauge a jury’s likely response to the evidence presented. While Bellwether trials are actual trials, the results can often sway parties one way or another.
Fortunately for General Motors, the jury saw things their way following three Bellwether trials in the Houston area earlier this month. The jury took about one hour to determine that General Motors was not liable in the serious brain injury of the 24-year old driver, whose car careened out of control and killed the driver of an oncoming vehicle.
Other Bellwether trials are set to begin over the next several months, and the results of a Bellwether trial are not necessarily indicative of whether General Motors will offer a settlement to victims and their families. In other words, success in Houston does not necessarily mean the company is off the hook for the deaths and injuries of hundreds of other victims.
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If you would like to discuss your options following a recent personal injury, please contact our office today!